I’ve met some big celebrities before. Of course “Big Celebrities” is a matter of opinion. However, when throwing names around- it’s best to use the most popular or notable ones to get your point across. It’s hard to rank them in order of who is the most important because at the moment the encounter takes place, it’s always the most special of all time. For instance, I’m post 2 Hours 18 minutes from meeting the multi-talented Michael Nesmith, and it’s currently the greatest thing ever. But I’m trying to remember that just about a month ago I was calling everyone I knew to tell them I had met Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork, and Davy Jones’ Daughters because that was the greatest thing to ever happen to me. It was a different feeling of excitement for all of them.
So here’s where I throw my big names around. I’ve met Bob Uecker, William Shatner, President George W. Bush & Mrs. Laura Bush (I was an intern at the White House, but didn’t get to meet him til after his Presidency ended— ‘nother blog, ‘nother time), Alan Alda, Rusty Wallace, and many many many more musicians.
You can hold me to my word- meeting Michael Nesmith was most definitely the best experience in my lifetime, and that statement won’t change. I mean it runs so close with meeting President Bush that I can’t distinguish the margin of excellence between both of them because of their warmth and welcoming nature, and jovial attitude and engagement really created an atmosphere that I will always be able to go to as my happy place when I need it. The feeling of those moments will never go away.
The anticipation of meeting Michael was almost too much for me today….the butterflies in my stomach, the racing heartbeat of what happens if the venue doesn’t have my approval to go back stage, what do I say to Nez, what if the cab driver doesn’t get me there on time?? Too much to worry about !! I wanted so badly for everything to come out perfect.
To begin with the concert portion, I really enjoyed the set up of it. The stage was no more than 15 feet away from the 2nd row of tables. Behind the tables were cushioned bench seats. I couldn’t have chosen a better seat, just off middle center. Truth be known, when tickets went on sale, it was such a mad rush to make sure that I had anything, that I clicked randomly on an open single seat. The stage also seemed a bit cozy, in such that the other 4 musicians and Mike did not have much room to move around.
The show started and everyone cheered and stood up and clapped and clapped past when I’m sure he thought we were going to stop. When I saw him with the Monkees last November, I didn’t really get a chance to see him. I was so far away that it felt like I was watching on TV. Not this time… unless it was a 3D retina TV ! I could hear his coat brush against his pants and his tennis shoes scuff the floor. I took my seat and looked up at him on stage and the tears, uncontrollably started rolling down my cheeks. I know the first song he was singing “Papa Gene’s Blues”, but I really can’t remember it. I kept thinking, “Make it stop ! Your eye makeup will run and You still have to get your picture taken later !” It was just pure joy though, and I couldn’t stop it. The more I’d smile and laugh the more that came out. I was sitting there thinking about him and blogs about his dog back home, or favorite parts from the TV show and trying hard to take in every little detail about the concert.
Mike would tell the background story of the song before playing it. He even had a creative and lyrical way of presenting the inspiration for his songwriting that left me feeling in awe of his imagination and creativity. Many of the original songs he chose to showcase were songs of love or heartache and were defined by a wide range of decades- even before Mike’s time, such as the 20s for “Rio” and “Casablanca Moonlight” up through the 2000’s and the song “Rays”. I looked at the set list on time weeks before the show. I know it was a spoiler, but I wanted to make sure I knew what songs he was going to sing because he has sooooo many albums- and no, I did not expect him to sing Monkees songs. That’s not what this tour was about. The two songs that kept playing in my head after the show were “Rays” which he described as pertaining to an astronaut in space and a song called “Laugh Kills Lonesome” from a cowboy painting he saw in Montana.
Once the show was over (and it was over too fast!), the fortunate few with backstage (blingy) bracelets stayed in our seats while the general audience people left and the tables were cleaned up. We were moved to another room that had red chairs around the perimeter of the room. In one corner of the room was a very small stand for him to use to sign autographs. I sat with my two friends, but kept leaning forward and I saw him coming down the hallway from my corner seat, and he was already smiling. This is what for me started to set the mood. The air about him was not emitting a feeling of reluctance or this being another chore or something the manager set up for him to do.
I took note because of two of the above people I mentioned as “Big Names” , their actions put a daper on the experience. They were almost silent, non-smiling and made you feel like they just wanted to get it done as fast as possible.
Mike had changed out of his stage clothes (a button down black shirt and tie, with blue jeans and a blazer) and into a flannel shirt, that I very much wish I were wearing !
He greeted everyone and looked around. This one lady just walked right up to him and hugged him. What a greeting ! With how shy I am, I didn’t want to have people in line around me hearing what I had to say to him- luckily they didn’t, except for those that were at the end of the line, but near the table. He started the line on the wall closest to him (3 walls only). I was in the corner on the 2nd wall talking to my friends who also are recording artists and regulars at Nez’s Video Ranch on the weekends. We were talking and laughing to pass the time. Before I knew it, I was up next.
“Whose next?” I remember him asking.
“That’s me,” I said and stood up and walked across the room. He was watching me walk across the room! It was as scary as when you have to give a speech in front of the class and no one really wants to listen to you and is scowling. Well that’s how unnerving it felt to me.
As I got closer, he extended his hand and said it was nice to meet me and thanks for coming, what was my name. His hands were so soft. I guess I mention that because I didn’t expect them to be from playing the guitar.
Now, Mike is much taller than me, and I wasn’t speaking so loud so he kept bending in closer to hear me.
I took the first collage out of the envelope that I had created for my mom’s autograph (she didn’t make the trip to Chicago for this so I wanted to do this as a special surprise for her). Mom wanted me to just give him the message that she had loved him always. So I asked him to please sign the picture for her. He told me I was a very nice daughter to do that. The pictures were from one of our favorite Monkee episodes. It’s called “Never Look a Gift Horse In the Mouth.” I always liked it because it was about Davy and a horse and you saw him racing on the beach, and he and the guys were working on a farm. Just all things I love. Mom liked the song sequence when Michael was singing Papa Gene’s Blues and he winked at the camera. I took some screen shots of that and put them in a collage. I remember he asked me twice how to spell her name.
Then I fumbled with the rest of the pictures that I had in my hand, not knowing which to give him. I decided to bring out the small 5×7 picture of he and I at the Video Ranch from earlier in the year. He was seated in a chair on the edge of the dance floor and I was dancing next to him. I had it with me in March when I met his son, Christian. I never thought I’d get the chance to see Nez in person so I had Christian sign it because he and I were talking about the Ranch.
Michael looked at the picture for quite a while and thought it was a real cute idea. He asked if that was me in the picture. So he signed it, but didn’t personalize it with my name. That’s ok. I was so flustered anyway. I have an autograph that he sent through the mail when I bought his books.
I don’t know if he expected me to bring out the other pictures that I had in my hand, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to take advantage of the situation. The way I feel and the way I perceive him, is that I don’t want to upset him in any way, by being basically a “pain the ass”, or immature. I wanted to be conscious of how he was feeling. I had overheard a conversation (and we all know how reliable hearsay is) that people kept telling him they loved him, and he wanted to know do you love me or the guy I played on a tv show. So since all the pics I had were from the Monkees TV show, it’s probably better that I didn’t bring them out.
So with nothing on the table to sign, it was time for our photograph together. He put his arm around my shoulder. I put my hand on his back and his flannel shirt was so fuzzy and warm. I just wanted to cuddle up with him the rest of the night. We stood there for a while to make sure the picture would come out right. The camera lady was a bit unsure (but she did a good job) so I asked her if she wanted the flash on. Mike said that the flash really didn’t help or work well in this room. (side note- we still had our arms around each other at this point- sigh) We looked at the thumbnail pic on the screen before parting… each saying a plethora of thank you back and forth to each other. I walked back to my seat where my friends “The Pondhawks” were on their way up to meet him.
They and I waited with two other people until the entire conversation meet and greet session was over. He waved and said goodnight. We followed him out of the room and he waited for the elevator, waving so-long.
There were so many more things that I wish I had said to him. I wanted to tell him to hug his puppy-dog Dale for me. I wanted to tell him how much I admire him (I love him dearly, but I think he’s more appreciate me being an adoring fan than to say I love him when I don’t really know him), I wanted to ask him how he named the various places at the Ranch, tell him how much I like his lyrics and how certain ones pop out at you even though you’ve sung the song tons of times. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself though or compare it to meeting the other guys because I was able to handle myself better with Peter, Micky and Christian. Well, I have to remember that I had a 2nd chance with all of them. Two days in a row, I stood in line to see the afore mentioned so I had the chance to calm it down.
In all, I’m not disappointed one bit. I’d still like to do this once in a life time opportunity again. It’s almost like…. I’ve met Mike Nesmith, my heart is full; I’m content. I can’t think of many others stars that I can say I want to meet, but maybe I’ll still strive for Arlo Guthrie and David Ogden Stiers.
Here’s a link to the rest of the pictures from the concert. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200174020168049.1073741830.1077830858&type=1&l=bc8f8ac7f4
The title of this blog “I’ll Remember You” is in tribute to a song Nez wrote and recorded on his The Newer Stuff Album. Lyrics here. http://www.morethanweimagine.com/newerstuff/ill_remember_you.html